25 November 2010

Getting Itchy And Spoiled Milk

Oh my gosh—I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa—WHO IS REAL by the way—as I eagerly await my first week of training from Coach Mary.  Seriously, I have not been this excited to train since..... well.... I have never been this excited to start training.

I have been feeling a bit under the weather this whole week, but I was committed to getting out there this morning with my longtime running buddy, Vanessa for the annual turkey day 10k. To say I did not feel one hundred percent would be an unbelievable understatement. My right hip is still acting goofy, but I think I have figured out the culprit. Ready for this? I think that it is a combination of my leather belt that I wear sitting all day and sitting with my right leg crossed over my left for large parts of my day. How do I know this? I tried crossing my right leg over my left and it hurt like heck. Of course, I was not satisfied that this could really be what has been causing my body great pain, so I had to try it over and over. I felt like the guy that opens up a milk carton and tells his roommate "Oh my gosh! This smells terrible! Smell it!" What is that about? I am pretty sure I can take someone's word for it when they say the milk is spoiled.

Anyway, I felt like I have not been training when I was out there on my run this morning. I started out too fast and got progressively slower. Oops. Basically, today was a training day. I have that ickiness that comes from congestion, and my body is still fatigued. I am sure that if I just laid in bed for a couple of days drinking orange juice and and taking over the counter medication, I would convalesce back to my former feeling of immortality. So why am I running, biking and swimming under less than ideal health conditions? For a succinct, but thorough explanation of this see my friend Kelly's post from this week.

Here is how my day went down (yuck):
Yeah, that last mile really did not go down the way I wanted it too. To tell you the truth, my race was over at  mile three. My legs felt great going up the gradual hills, but my wind was non-existent, and my hip started felling naughty. 

The good news? My buddy Vanessa PR'ed by over a minute with a 44:50(ish)!  Nice job little buddy!
Congratulations to all my running buddies out there today. Seriously, I saw no fewer than 40 athletes I know. It is so fun seeing people of all different ages out there getting in their pre-Thanksgiving Day guilt run. 

My boys are now very interested in tracking their running as they have watchd me upload my runs onto my computer. So:

Julian's run:                                                                           Luca's run:                                             

Stay tuned all spring and summer to see how much more prepared for Ironman my sons are than me. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Train Smart!

23 November 2010

T Minus Seven Days

I believe it was Ben Franklin who once said "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." As the holidaze slowly approach, I like to head over to my favorite fifteen thousand square foot food, er beer market, and stock up on a couple of—what I like to refer to as—"family tolerators." Now, don't get me wrong, these divinely inspired beverages are as much for my extended family to put up with me, as they are for me to appreciate the unique personality quirks that make the holidaze so joyful.  Purchased this evening:

1) One case of Lion's Stout. If you like stout, this is the quintessential malty stout for you. Okay, listen all you beer aficionados out there ready to jump and declare my ignorance for what I call the loveliest stout known to mankind, save it!  This just happens to be my opinion on this matter. Of course, in the self-titled autobiography by Charles Barkely (edited by Michael Wilbon), "I May Be Wrong, but I Doubt It."

2) One six pack of Sierra Nevada Kellerweis. It is wifey's current favorite beer.

3) One four-pack of Sam Smith's Winter Welcome for my brother-in-law for Christmas. He is a big fan.

Well, amidst all of the chaos, I am managing to stay relatively sane. I have been consistent about getting in workouts, albeit none of them very intense, or extensive. The longest run I have been on since Ironman is an 8-miler. Of course, that is all going to change December 1st, as I set my course for Ironman once again. Along the way, I plan on racing a lot more this summer. I plan on doing a lot of  5 and 10k's to get use to racing. Here I am with my friend Ryan at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. It was cold and dark outside. How macho are we? Well, as macho as anyone can look with tights on I suppose who is NOT Superman. I still have not been able to shake the ickiness all the way. I have woken up the last week with a scratchy throat and some funkiness. Nothing is worse than not having the energy that you think should be there. Perhaps I am actually getting older and require more rest?!! I shudder to think that my body now requires more rest. I thought that I was fairly invincible. Clearly, the one thing that has dramatically changed for me this year is my new professorship position. My new position requires me driving an hour to work five days a week. So, I lose  ten hours a week in a car. Not good. From a physical perspective, driving leaves me tired, because I drive on the thruway, and I have to be alert all the time. But, for me, driving is more draining from a psychological perspective. After being in a car for an hour on the way home, I really have to talk myself into going out for a run. I think the only way to real combat this is two-fold:

a) move closer

b) workout in the morning

(A) is not an option right now. The children are in school and committed to summer activities already.
(B) is the only viable option. Ugh!  I HAVE to do this. I have to do this. I have to do this. I have to do this! I just need to get my butt in bed at a reasonable hour. Hopefully, I will have the winter break to readjust completely to "Ironman Clock." I also have not been stretching enough. I am back doing some serious weight training—especially legs—and need to keep my hamstrings and quads stretched, so I do not feel like the Tinman.

I am going to run a race Thanksgiving morning. It is an annual 10k. I just feel bad because I am not as prepared to really "compete" as I would like. However, when I brought my self deprecating talk to my friend Alexa, she quickly reminded me that Thanksgiving Day races are for the purpose of eating guilt-free the rest of the day, not to PR. Ah, how I love friends who have the ability to put everything into perspective for me.

One recent development for me that I am very excited about—other than having an amazing coach this season!!!—is that I can not fudge any workouts. I need to be able to account for all my training, so my coach can figure out why I am the slowest human being they have ever coached and why I seldom make any strides. Okay, there I go being self-deprecating again. Seriously, the best part about having a coach is that I will not have to do ANY of the thinking. The data to the left is from my Saturday morning run with Ryan. He was racing the next morning, so it was good that he went out with me to
pace him. I think I am now addicted to data. How cool is it to see all your splits? I have noticed that I always start feeling good right around mile seven of my run. What does this mean? Should I only race longer distances? Should I warm up for a couple of miles before I run a 10k? Enquiring minds want to know!

OTHER DEVELOPMENT: I am reading the first Harry Potter book with my son Luca. I don't what prompted me to pick up the book and want to start reading it with him, but I we are on chapter seven, and I find myself trying very hard not to pick it up and read it without him. All my friends who have read it told me how wonderful the series is, but I guess I just did not have the motivation to pick it up and start reading. Glad I did.

Good luck to everyone running Thursday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

More soon! Train Smart!

17 November 2010

Beautifully Chaotic

There are points in all of our lives when we are completely surrounded by chaos, when we feel like we like we are barely holding it all together.
I'm there.

When this happens, it is difficult to think straight, let alone write. I had a professor in graduate school at Ithaca who always use to preach "In order to write clearly, you need to think clearly." I believe that now more than ever. When I do any academic work, whether it is prepping a class, correcting papers, or writing music, I need to be somewhere where I have a lot of space and is free from distractions. Thus, home is NOT the ideal place. Yeah, someplace without five children running around asking me to wrestle every five minutes, or play a game, do a puzzle, play catch, build legos, or sing songs. The problem is, I would MUCH rather be doing that all that stuff with my kids than getting work done.

It has been my experience that chaos induced stress can leads to one of two outcomes:

1) Leaves stressed-induced individual utterly paralyzed, unable to perform a single task for  periods of time.

2) Further motivates stressed-induced individual to get their tail in gear and slowly chip away at the stress, all the while promising themselves never again to overcommit. Yeah, right!

Lately, I  resemble both of these outcomes.

Last Friday, I attended a play called The Laramie Project with my colleague Yisrael from the english department. My wife was a bit jealous that I had a date with someone other than her. Two of our colleagues from the Theater Department were involved in the project—one directed the play, and another played multiple roles in the performance. Needless to say, I am a fantastic date. We went out for dinner, saw a play, and I drove.

My pear salad

Yisrael enjoying some good food, a beer, and an annoying photographer.

Here is a picture of my meal. I call this "Swordfish Therapy."

This is as pretentious as I could possibly look drinking coffee.

Whenever things get stressful, I think about what an amazing life I have: an incredibly supportive wife, an amazing family, and good friends who lift my spirits when I am feeling overwhelmed. My children are also incredibly therapeutic. Sunday morning, Stella came into bed and started talking to me. 

She said "Daddy. Do you know what I like? I like skeletons, princesses, and R2D2."
Ah... I've raised her right!

Interactions like this with my children make me focus on what is truly important in life. 

Training: The training is currently at a minimal "get-it-done" level. This is my off-season, and I am relishing it. I have been trying to get in run and swim workouts, but I have still not been on a bike since Ironman!  Come December, that is ALL going to change. I will be back in the saddle again. I have some very exciting news to announce regarding my training this season. I will have the help of a coach. Look out age-groupers, I am getting serious!  What is the reason for seeking out a coach? Well, with my insanely busy lifestyle, I either will have to give up training for triathlons entirely, or find a way to do something that I love and makes me happy without sacrificing time with my family. When I met with my coach for the first time, I told her that minimizing time away from my family is my number one priority. I want to be done with the bulk of my training before 8:00 a.m. (with the exception of the insanely long weekend ride in preparation for Ironman). I know that she  understands and appreciates my concerns. She is a wife and mother, and serious triathlete. I will write a separate post about my new coach in a future blog. I am very excited to be working with her.

One other thing I hope to do this season is to keep track of all of my workouts. I did not do that last season. I had no idea how many miles I was biking, running, or swimming each week. I could look back at my training plan, but I never followed it to the letter of the law. Keeping track of all my data will prove to everyone what an incredible slacker I can be, and why I am not running a faster HIM.

Okay.... more good news to come. Train Smart!

... and to all my blogger buddies: I look forward to catching up with life and your blogs real soon!

09 November 2010

Running And Swimming Away The Ickiness

I have been feeling icky for the last week. Runny nose, sore throat, itchy eyes, headache. Not fun. I have a lot of stuff going on in my professional life that has been contributing to the fatigue. Four weekends of concerts and rehearsals. Oh, and Stella has been sick, and I love giving Stella hugs and kisses—although she is at that not-so-fun period in her life when she is not too excited about giving me hugs and kisses. Sigh. My performances with BIODANCE were absolutely fantastic. This picture is following our last performance. It got to work with an unbelievably talented group of performers.

Over the weekend, went and watch my friends race nearby in a place called Mendon Ponds. My friends Kelly, Ben and Mike ran the 50k, and my training partner Mike ran the 20k. I had totally anticipated doing the 20k trail run this week, until the tragic ickiness struck earlier in the week.

Here are Kelly and Ben coming into transition after their second 10k loop. Apparently Kelly thought the race was already over, or she is just doing her best Chariots of Fire victory lap.

Here is my buddy Mike feeling great during transition. You know he's feeling great because he is giving me the thumbs up.
Look who came out to support her fellow Train This team member Kelly
It's my buddy Alexa. We coordinated my sweater and her run running jacket.
I call this photo: Boys on Hill. Luca and Julian wanted a better vantage point to watch the runners coming in. Shortly after taking this photo, Julian ran down the hill, lost his shoe, and started laughing hysterically. I will never understand what makes that boy tick. Wait... he is just like his dad. Never mind.

So, with ickiness about me, I set everything aside for a bit and headed over to the pool Monday afternoon to try my hand at a thousand yards or so. In my experience, running, swimming, and biking when you are slightly ill can go one of two ways:

1) make you  more sick and miserable
2) just the thing your body needs to break out of its funk and continue on its journey towards immortality—like Cher.

Luckily, it was number two. This morning, I woke up at 5:45, and met my friends Mike and Ryan for a 6.9 mile run. Wow, two workouts in two days. I am on a roll. If I can just keep it going long enough to run a 10k on Thanksgiving morning. I would really like to parlay my training the next two weeks into a 45 minute 10k. It's a long-shot right now considering I am just starting to run again—sans pain—for the first time since Ironman.

When I posted my shout-outs the other day, there was one glaringly obvious omission that I only realized after posting. Congratulations goes out to my blogger buddy Bob from ONEHOURIRONMAN, who finished IMFL in an impressive 12:47. Way to go Bob!  The ironic part is that I was tracking him all day—along with my cousin and two other friends—on Ironman Live.

More Soon. Train Smart!

06 November 2010

Catching Up And Shoutouts

Update: I have been up to my earlobes with work the last two weeks, thus, the infrequent posts.  I had four concerts in two weekends, and I wrote three new works in the span of two weeks. I love writing music, but I love writing music when I have time to live with my musical materials. I like being immersed in a piece to understand where it is going. The best part about having time to work on creative projects is that they almost invariably have a sense of organicism that dictate where the music is going. When you have to write music fast, you sometimes force it to take a direction that it might not otherwise want to go naturally. However, what I've learned through the years, is to allow yourself to submit, and—like triathlon—know that all the training you have put it, will a result in a decent product in the end. Ah, the zen of composition. Whenever I struggled to meet at deadline early in my career, I use to call up my very first composition teacher for advice. He always gave me this pragmatic matter-of-fact response, "Hey, just put a double-bar line on it for goodness sakes and call it done. Do you think you're going to win the Pulitzer with this one or something?" I have no delusions of winning the Pulitzer anytime soon, but Dr. Bevelander did have a great point. Like Obi-Wan's advice to Luke, I had to trust my feelings and let go.

Good News: There is end in sight! Everything that I am doing is exciting. I always remember that whenever it seems like it might start to get overwhelming, that the chaos is only temporary. Well, okay, maybe it is a bit more than temporary in our case. With wifey dancing professionally again, the tag-team parenting is in full effect.

I have been taking the running easy, well if you consider a six and a half mile trail run traversing up and down several hundred feet last Sunday taking it easy. Seriously, this was some run. Mike T. and I went out early Sunday morning and had a great workout (once we could finally find the park). I am not good with directions. I was more sore after my 6.5 mile trail run than after Ironman. I think it is time to start doing a little training again. I have been pretty consistent about getting to the pool and swimming,  but the end of the week found me SICK! I came down with a nasty post-nasal drip and I have not been able to run, or swim for the last four days. Yuck!  Hopefully, I can get some rest over the weekend and get back out there.

SHOUT-OUTS: I need to give some huge shout-outs to some friends and family running some pretty hardcore races this weekend. Good luck to my cousin Danny, who ran the Musselman HIM with me this summer. He will be racing IMFL this weekend along with fellow bloggers Mary Eggers, and Trakkers team member Jacquie Gordon. Good luck to all of you. Go fast!  And of course, I would be remiss if I did not give a giant shout out to my dear friend, fellow musician, and blogger buddy Kelly C. over at trimommylife who will be running a trail 50k tomorrow! Holy smokes! I also get the rather unique distinction of feeding Kelly her pre-race meal this evening at my house. She and her friend are spending the night at our place because we are much closer to the race sight than she would be had she driven from home. The Menu?  Penne Vodka and brocolli rappi, what else? Go fast guys!

More soon. Hopefully, I will have some photos of Kelly getting absolutely muddy out there during her 50k.

Train Smart!